Bakers Journal

Contest recreates Black Creek Pioneer Village in gingerbread

December 6, 2010
By Bakers Journal

December 6, 2010, Toronto – This holiday season, Black Creek Pioneer Village presents a Gingerbread Village featuring culinary replicas of Black Creek landmarks.

The Gingerbread Village exhibition kicked off on Nov. 18 with a competition that let winning bakers take home cash prices. First prize winner Suzanne Zimmerman of Etobicoke built a gingerbread reproduction of the Tinsmith Shop. Judges were impressed by the simple form and fine details of Zimmerman’s creation, which included a large glass storefront that sparkles and a delicate balcony railing, as well as board and batten siding.

dec6tinsmithshopbjZimmerman, a second-year culinary student at Humber College, was surprised by the contest’s popularity. "There were more than I expected, and I loved the range of entries." She herself had to build her entry three times since her dog, Max, ate the first two versions. "So after that I made the third one at a friend's house. It worked out for the better, because I was able to improve on the first two houses."

Runners up included Maple’s Ann Tzembelicos for her gingerbread version of the Doctor’s House, and Brampton’s Genevieve Dahan, who won third place for her replica of Burwick House.

dec6burwickhousebjArchitectural detail and culinary arts bore equal weight in judging the competition. "They needed to make full use of the baker's palette to reproduce details such as roof shingles or windows," said Liz Driver, a culinary historian and curator at Campbell House, another of Toronto’s museums. "As with all gingerbread houses, there is also an architectural challenge: the structures need to be strong enough to stand up, but not so strong that you would break your teeth when you eat them!"

"I've made gingerbread homes myself, so I can appreciate the skill and artistry of the entrants," Driver added. "Of course, these are recreations of historic buildings, so accuracy was an important criteria in assessing their work."

dec6doctorshousebjGill Haley, an architect with Goldsmith Borgal & Company and a judge for the competition, was also impressed by the accuracy present in many of the entries. "The historic buildings at Pioneer Village display a high degree of craftsmanship and detailing that is lacking in much modern day construction. I was hoping to see some of the same 'joy of creation' in the gingerbread models, and was not disappointed. While the baked medium with sugar icing is challenging to work with, the spirit of the gingerbread village structures is absolutely delightful."

All of the winning buildings have been included in the Gingerbread Village display, which features a model train traveling though the tiny gingerbread community. The village will be on display until Dec. 23, when each of the buildings will be raffled off.

dec6groupshotbjThe Gingerbread Village is just one highlight in a packed program of seasonal events at Black Creek Pioneer Village. This year will see the introduction of Lunch with Santa, (Dec. 11-12, 18-23), as well as perennial favourites, including Christmas dinners and the Christmas By Lamplight event (Dec. 11 and 18), during which the whole Village is lit by hundreds of period lamps.

For more information, visit, or call (416) 736-1733.

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